10 Cities and Towns That Tried to Host the U.N.


Back in the mid-1940s, over 200 American municipalities tried persuading the newly-formed United Nations to set up shop on or near their soil, including these 10.

1. Detroit

Getty Images

The Motor City’s backers painted Bell Isle as an ideal destination, pointing out that, because the landmass rests between two countries with a long history of mutual respect, its symbolic value was huge. During their bid, local officeholders couldn’t resist the urge to start bragging: “Other American cities may have one advantage, but Detroit has them all,” Convention & Tourist Bureau president Frank A. Pickard said.

2. Claremore, Oklahoma


Apparently, so far as distinctions go, being both Will Rogers’s hometown and the setting of that Rogers & Hammerstein musical weren’t enough for this Great Plains community. Once, when a U.N. plane touched down in Tulsa to refuel at 2:30 a.m., Claremont residents startled its passengers by greeting them with promotional fliers, even after their bid had been denied.

3. San Francisco



It may be easy to leave your heart in San Francisco, but in 1945, flying there from the east coast was a tiring ordeal—the trip usually took upwards of 16 hours, and that was on top of the journey from Europe—so the city was dropped from serious consideration, despite Mayor Roger Lapham’s best lobbying efforts.  

4. Boston


Bean Town residents have been calling their city "the hub of the universe" since the 1860s. So, naturally, when word got out that U.N. diplomats were seeking a permanent home for their new "World Capital," Boston threw its hat in the ring. During the winter of ’46, visiting representatives got red-carpet treatment, complete with a scenic blimp ride.

5. Scituate, Rhode Island


New England looked like prime real estate—after all, no U.S. region sits closer to Europe, and on January 23, 1946, U.N. delegates arrived to inspect this pretty Rhode Island town. The weather was perfect: one newspaper reported that it was "as if the landscape had put on costume jewelry for its distinguished guests." But Scituate offered more than scenery. What made it really attractive was a nearby radio listening station which had helped allied forces monitor Nazi activities throughout WWII. According to superintendent Thomas Cave, Scituate was "the best location in the country for radio transmission and reception to any part of the world."

6. St. Louis


In 1945, civic leaders recommended the St. Louis suburb of Weldon Spring.

7. Hyde Park, New York


This little town had a big advocate. Five months after her husband died in office, Eleanor Roosevelt asked his successor to consider nudging the U.N. toward FDR’s place of birth. After all, as she reminded President Harry Truman, the government already owned land on-site. "[There] is great interest in the village in having some of the property … selected as the permanent headquarters of the United Nations," Roosevelt wrote. Truman replied a few days later, politely noting that while he was grateful for her letter, he didn’t know how the placement decision would be made.  

8. Chicago


According to Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations, Chicago's dark history of terrible fires, vicious gangsters, and strikes posed a challenge to its bid, as did its isolationist leanings. Eventually, this prevailing attitude became a deal-breaker and, just like that, Chicago's odds of winning the U.N. sweepstakes evaporated.

9. Grand Island, New York


Nestled just a few miles upstream of Niagara Falls, this upstate island and town could have become the world’s political epicenter. Instead, it reached the "final four" of the U.N. host site selection process but advanced no further.

10. Philadelphia


If it weren’t for some guy named Rockefeller, the U.N. headquarters would be as quintessentially Philadelphian as cheese steak. Badly wanting to stick this feather in its cap, the City of Brotherly Love fought hard and almost won. Unlike her great rival New York, in which space proved rather tight, Philly was willing to part with essentially any chunk of land for the U.N., and, as an added bonus, even offered to cover all building expenses.

Impressed, the powers that be decided Philadelphia would be a perfect locale. Then, four days before the U.N. planned to announce its impending move there, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and planning czar Robert Moses came up with some land on Manhattan and a promised gift of $8.5 million. In a flash, the deal was done. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer took this brush-off hard. "The atmosphere of Manhattan’s gin and jazz would probably be to the liking of international lobbyists, parasites, and camp followers," one writer scoffed, "but it is far from the quiet and dignity in which the United Nations should properly work."

BONUS: South Dakota's Black Hills Region


To Rapid City businessman Paul Bellamy, there was no place on earth that could better serve the U.N. than this remote region. "[The] delegates would think clearer out in the Black Hills," he argued. Geographic isolation would come with other advantages, too. For example, in Bellamy’s mind, a nuclear holocaust wasn’t likely to affect South Dakota all that much: “In the Black Hills, there are no military objectives, and the gentlemen who are striving for peace in the world can live at peace while the atomic bombs are falling.”

Bellamy’s team came up with an outlandish sketch of this future complex. Situated over 100 square miles of tax-free land, there’d be a huge central building surrounded by rings of international offices. Special highways would slice through the neighboring mountains, where diplomats could also set up cozy getaway cottages.

Keystone/Getty Images
10 Facts About Ernesto 'Che' Guevara
Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

Far more than just an image on a dorm room wall, Ernesto Guevara was a 20th-century Renaissance man. He was a doctor, political philosopher, diplomat, military strategist, and best-selling author who challenged the capitalist status quo with words and gunfire.

Born into middle-class comfort on June 14, 1928, Guevara was introduced to left-wing theories at a young age, thanks to his parents and the radical books in their home library. His Marxist thinking was also profoundly shaped by his encounters with abject poverty throughout South America, and he would eventually convert those thoughts to revolutionary actions in Cuba and beyond. Here are 10 facts about the man known as Che.


Che’s great-great-great-great-grandfather was Patrick Lynch, who emigrated from Ireland to what is now Argentina in the 1700s. His father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, has been quoted as saying, "The first thing to note is that in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels." The other side of the family was Basque; according to Guevara’s brother Juan, their father was drawn to the rebellious elements of both sides of the family tree, but particularly appreciated the Irish love of a good party. In 2017, Ireland’s postal service, An Post, issued a stamp commemorating Che using Dublin artist Jim Fitzpatrick’s iconic red, black, and white image of the revolutionary.


His parents were members of the San Isidro rugby club, for which Che played scrum-half in his youth. In 1951 he published his own magazine dedicated to the sport, called Tackle. The only problem with playing? He suffered from asthma his entire life. His father tried to convince him to quit the sport because of it, but Che responded, “I love rugby. Even if it kills me one day, I am happy to play it.”


Because of his asthma, Che was home-schooled, and it was there that he was first introduced to the poetry he would come to love for the rest of his life. At his death, he was carrying a weathered green book of poetry that he’d copied by hand, featuring work from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo, and Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén. He was also a fan of Walt Whitman, John Keats, and more.


Short, sharp, and memorable, Che is also an Argentine interjection that Guevara used so often his Cuban compatriots branded him with it. It’s a filler word, something like saying dude, mate, or pal. If he’d been Canadian, his nickname might have been Eh.


Influenced by his struggles with asthma, Che enrolled in Buenos Aires University to study medicine in 1948. After graduating as a physician in 1953, he did an internship at Mexico City's General Hospital, where he carried out allergy research, but left in 1955 to join Fidel and Raul Castro’s Cuban Revolution as their doctor.


During his time studying medicine, Che embarked on two trips through South America—a solo journey in 1950 on a motorized bicycle and an 8000-mile trek that started on a vintage motorcycle with friend Alberto Granado in 1952. On these trips, he saw intense poverty and the exploitation of workers and farmers. After witnessing “the shivering, flesh-and-blood victims of capitalist exploitation,” Che was determined to fight the system. His account of his second journey, first published in Cuba in 1993 as The Motorcycle Diaries, became a New York Times bestseller and a critically acclaimed 2004 film.


Che settled in Guatemala in 1953 partially because he approved of the way the country’s president, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, had redistributed land to peasants—a move that angered the country's elite and the powerful U.S.-based United Fruit Company. That same year, a CIA-backed effort forced the democratically elected Arbenz from power. A ruling junta elected the right-wing Castillo Armas to the presidency, and then restored United Fruit Company’s land. Che was radicalized by the event, and it was the first time he participated directly in revolutionary activities, fighting with a small group of rebels (unsuccessfully) to retake Guatemala City.


Che Guevara during the battle of Santa Clara
Che Guevara during the battle of Santa Clara in Cuba
Keystone/Getty Images

Following Castro’s revolution, Guevara was given important positions related to finance and the economy, and named President of the National Bank in 1959. That gave him an unparalleled amount of power to direct the country’s economy, which he used to try to reduce Cuba's dependence on sugar exports and trade with the United States in particular. He also made his disdain toward money itself known by signing Cuba’s notes simply as Che.


Che is most famous for his central role in the Cuban revolution, but he also worked to export their model to other countries. In the cases of Bolivia and the Congo, that involved engaging directly in armed revolution in the mid-1960s. He also traveled to the United States, and addressed the United Nations in 1964 in an hour-long speech that criticized the UN itself as well as the United States’ treatment of black Americans.


Che was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian troops in 1967 while trying to foment revolution in Bolivia, and was executed the next day on the orders of that country's president. They cut off the revolutionary's hands post-mortem to prove his identity before dropping his body in a mass grave with other guerrilla fighters. It wasn’t until 28 years later that Bolivian General Mario Vargas told biographer Jon Lee Anderson that Che’s body was buried near the airstrip in Vallegrande, prompting a massive search. A corpse was uncovered in July 1997 that experts said matched Che's description, in part thanks to its lack of hands and the pipe tobacco found in a jacket pocket. Che was reburied in Santa Clara, Cuba, at the base of a giant statue depicting his likeness.

Why Macedonia Is Getting a New Name

For the first time since becoming an independent nation in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia is rebranding itself. As CNN reports, the Balkan nation will soon be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia, a name change that will hopefully help to heal the country's tense relationship with Greece.

Macedonia adopted its former title after gaining independence from Yugoslavia 27 years ago, and the name immediately caused conflict. Its neighbor to the south, Greece has a region of its own called Macedonia. Greece claimed that Macedonia's name suggested a sense of entitlement to territory that belonged to them and took it as an insult.

Even decades later, the bad blood stirred by the decision remained. Greece's issue with the name has even prevented Macedonia from joining the European Union and NATO. The new title, which was agreed upon by Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras on June 11, is meant to be a step towards better relations between the two countries.

"Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honorable and geographically precise—Republic of Northern Macedonia," Prime Minister Zaev said at a press conference, as reported by Reuters. Macedonia will hold a popular vote to officially change the name in a referendum later this year.

A country changing its name isn't uncommon, but reasons for the revision vary. In April 2018, the country formerly known Swaziland announced it would be called eSwatini, the name it went by prior to British colonization.

[h/t CNN]


More from mental floss studios